Town President Larry Dominick smiled at what lay before him. Thousands of residents and guests lined the streets from Cermak Road down to 34th and Laramie. Behind him were floats, marching bands, and other groups lining up to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. As the noon kickoff approached for the final day of the four-day celebration, Dominick knew the parade was just the beginning of one of the biggest festivals for the town.
“I think it’s great,” Dominick said as he was getting ready to climb into the back of the convertible he rides every year with his wife. “We have a lot of Hispanics who live here. We have a great staff who puts it all together. I just get the glory of it, They do a lot of hard work and I’m proud of everything they do.”
The parade is one of several events the town holds to commemorate Mexico’s war for independence over the Spanish Empire. The United States of Mexico, as it is formally known, gained its autonomy after an 11-year war that ended in 1821. Cicero also held a pageant, crowning Señiorita Cicero Litzy Gutierrez before the four-day Mexican Independence Festival at the fairgrounds, held September 12-15 this year.
Joining the public organizations and elected officials, such as state Sen. Iris Martinez and state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, were cultural and civic groups, such as Aztec dancers Ocelotl Cihuacoatl, the Morton East High School mariachi and folkloric dance team, and the Ballet Folklórico Tonantzin team.
Many of the people who enjoyed the parade continued to the festival to enjoy the last day of live music, rides, and food before evening fell. That is when many more gathered to celebrate El Grito.
Dominick, along with the Town Board of Trustees and the Cicero Mexican Cultural Committee, gathered on stage to ring in Mexico’s Independence. El Grito is Spanish for the Cry. It harkens to September 16, 1810, when priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the bell in the present-day city of Dolores Hidalgo and called for Mexican Independence from the Spanish Empire.
Cicero’s El Grito is the fourth-largest in the United States. More than 35,000 people flooded the fairgrounds to watch town officials, Señiorita Cicero and her consort, and Mexican Consul General Reyna Torres Mendivil. Mendivil rang the bell for independence and cried out Hidalgo’s words while clutching the Mexican Flag.
“Mexicans! Long live the heroes who gave us homeland! Long live Hidalgo! Long live Morelos! Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominquez! Long live Allende! Long live Aldama and Matamoros! Long live the nation’s independence! Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico!” Mendivil said in Spanish. She also congratulated Cicero for holding such an authentic El Grito and a lively celebration for Mexican Independence overall.
“No other city in the Midwest does it like (Cicero),” said Eduardo “La Loquera” Audiffred, moderator of El Grito, as he introduced Dominick. The town president praised the crowd for coming to celebrate the holiday.
“Thank you for coming! I welcome you. Long live Mexico! Long live Cicero! Long live the United States of America! I hope everyone had a good weekend, the weather was beautiful — lots of rides, lots of food, a lot of drinks. Everyone should be happy,” Dominick said.